While the rest of you are enjoying Charles Dickens the way God intended, with Muppets, I am here finishing up the first Dickens novel, The Pickwick Papers, serially published in 1836-1837. It follows the adventures of an English gentleman named Pickwick and several of his fellow gentlemen. I cannot overstate how boring these adventures are.
Forgive me. I do not typically speak ill of works by living writers, and even though Dickens is safe from my literary criticism, there are plenty of you out there who like this book, and here I am being unkind to it. I am sorry. I would like to hear what it is you like about it.
The book is a series of linked vingettes. Many of them feel frivolous. It is true there are moments of depth, but the first time I said "Ah, now we're getting somewhere" was p. 564, which is fairly late in the game for a plot to thicken
Pickwick gets himself thrown in debtors' prison, and for a few blessed pages, Dickens writes with the social consciousness that elevates him above so many other writers. That passage would be enough to radicalize anyone into becoming a prison abolitionist. Regrettably, I cannot speak with such fervor about the remaining 700ish pages.
There are also footnotes and appendixes but I have only one wild and precious life.
A couple of years back I listened to an audiobook version of The Christmas Carol. It's in the public domain, so there are quite a few voice actors to pick from, but I quite enjoyed the narration by Tim Curry, and that's what I might recommend before the Pickwick Papers.
When Covid first hit, I started doing book talks on social media as a way to keep in touch with people. I never got out of the habit. I don't discuss books by my clients, and if I don't like a book, I won't discuss it at all. While I will sometimes focus on craft or offer gentle critical perspectives, as a matter of professional courtesy, I don't trash writers. Unless they're dead. Then the gloves come off.